Business

Advice for the next generation

With Toni-Ann Neita

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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My sister, who is 10 years my junior, is part of the generation known more popularly as the “Millennials”, but also known as “Generation Y” or the “Net Generation” (the latter name playing on the fact that they grew up in the digital era). They are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X.

There is some variation about the specific start and end years that define this generation, but I have most often seen it described as individuals born between 1982 and 2004. I think I just aged myself with this fact!

They are frequently stereotyped as materialistic, spoiled and having a sense of entitlement, but many Millennials feel that they will not be able to achieve material goals like finding their dream job, buying a house or retiring until much later in their lives than their parents did.

They want to start investing to achieve these goals but face many challenges, chief among them being crushing student loan debt, entering the workforce at a later age due to further studies and lower real income.

As my sister laments, her generation is the most educated but the least paid. I have often heard similar sentiments from other Millennials who have visited my office with a desire to invest.

Today I will be sharing the advice that I usually give to the next generation.

How can you invest if you don't have a lot of money?

There are many solutions for that, but first let us start at the source. Yes, you may have less income than you would like, but are you using the little you have wisely? It is important to be thrifty. If you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.

Following on that point, here is some good advice that I received from an older colleague years ago that has served me well: Do not increase your standard of living every time you get a salary increase. In other words, the fact that you're earning more doesn't mean you should stop eating Burger King and only eat sushi, or that your trusty Toyota should immediately be traded in for a Mercedes Benz!

If you follow that principle, you will find you have more disposable income than some of your peers who are actually earning a higher salary than you, simply because you didn't get sucked into the temptation to live it up, just because you're movin' on up in the salary scale.

Start with investments that have smaller minimum starting amounts. Unit trusts, mutual funds and stocks usually have a lower entry requirement than other types of investments. And even within the same class of investments there are variations as to the amount of funds you need to get started. For example, some bonds trade in smaller minimums than others, and so may be more attainable as you start your investment portfolio.

Another solution for not having the required initial investment amount is to start a joint investment with a trusted family member or friend. Once the investment has grown sufficiently, you can split the funds and start your own individual portfolios.

If you still don't have enough funds to make the initial investment deposit or purchase, then save towards that goal. Open a savings account designated to building up the required minimum initial deposit for the investment you had in mind. Start early and set goals!

A good way to ensure that you are disciplined and make regular contributions to building up your pool of funds is through salary deductions.

Although the challenges faced by the next generation may be different from previous generations, the solutions are time-tested and as valid today as they were decades ago. They are therefore applicable to anyone of any age who thinks that they do not have enough money to start investing.

So what are you waiting for?

Toni-Ann Neita is the AVP, Personal Financial Planning at Sterling Asset Management. Sterling provides financial advice and instruments in US dollars and other hard currencies to the corporate, individual and institutional investor. Visit our website at www.sterling.com. jm Feedback: If you wish to have Sterling address your investment questions in upcoming articles, e-mail us at: info@sterlingasset.net.jm

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